Liberia: Senate Adjourns without Assigning a Day of Reconvening
Monrovia – The fourth Regular Session of the Liberian Senate has adjourned without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.
The adjournment is in Line with Article 40 of the Liberian Constitution.
Addressing a news conference following the adjournment, the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Sen. Albert T. Chie, thanked his fellow Senators for the cooperation received as they took on their cardinal responsibilities in law-making, oversight and Representation.
Pro-Tempore Albert Chie also used the opportunity to thank the President of Liberia and Members of the Executive Branch and the Chief Justice and Members of the Judiciary Branch.
Commenting on the achievement of the Liberian Senate during its fourth Session, the Pro-Temp in his statement, disclosed that the Senate sat for a total of 61 days and passed 30 bills during the fourth session of the Legislature, to include several financing agreements mainly to support infrastructural development and Legislative instruments to strengthen the fight against corruption and enhance transparency.
President Pro-Tempore Chie at the Same time disclosed that there are still some crucial bills in committee rooms which Senators are still working on with diligence, amongst which are proposed acts dealing with electoral reforms and judicial practices.
President Pro-tempore Chie, who is also Grand Kru County Senator, also said that during the fourth Session, the Senate Plenary decided to improve legislative procedures by minimizing the number of Executive Sessions (referred to as closed-door sessions) and eliminated from the middle of the fourth session, the citation of concessionaires and non-Governmental institutions to Plenary and Committee Rooms.
Accordingly, he said these invitations and citations are now confined to public sector agencies who the Senate expects to provide all appropriate information when cited.
In terms of vigorous discharge of oversight by the Senate during the fourth session, President Pro-Tempore Chie disclosed that issues have been raised on the conduct of business activities and the difficulty of doing business at the Freeport of Monrovia including the activities of the APM Terminals, BIVAC and the CTN, issues on the Coronavirus Stimulus Package, most especially the food distribution aspect, the management contract at the Liberia Electricity Corporation and the slow growth of the power sector, uncoordinated retirement of public school teachers, security personnel and health workers and other issues in these three crucial sectors.
The Senate’s Presiding officer also told journalists that in line with the amended Public Financial Management Act, the President of Liberia submitted to the Legislature, through the Honorable House of Representatives, a Special Budget in the amount of US$301.55M covering the period July 1 to December 31, 2021, as a bridge to the new fiscal period which will start from January 1 of each year and end on December 31 of the same year.
In his statement, President Pro-Tempore Albert T. Chie disclosed that both chambers of the Legislature eventually passed the Special Budget at US$347.908m and made additional budgetary appropriations to the security sector, including the Armed Forces of Liberia, the health sector including the fight against COVID, the JFK Hospital, other health facilities around the country, fight against sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking, amongst others.
In view of the drop of Liberia in the last human trafficking rating report, President Pro-Tempore Chie committed the Senate to the collective fight of the Government to put an end to this menace and stated that the Plenary of the Liberian Senate has accordingly mandated its Committees on Labor and on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions to review all existing legislation on human trafficking and propose amendments with the aim of strengthening it.
Commenting on the implementation of TRC, the Senate Pro Tempore said the communication from the President of Liberia to the Liberian Senate date September 19, 2019, requesting its advice on how to proceed with the implementation of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), including the establishment of War Crimes and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia, the Senate has suggested the establishment of a Transitional Justice Commission (TJC) to inter alia, propose ways to remove the various constitutional and other legal inhibitions to the establishment of the War Crimes Court on Liberian soil.
The President Pro-Tempore, however, stated that the Senate believes that nobody should go with impunity and people should be held accountable for crimes they have committed.
The holding of by-elections in the four counties did not also go unnoticed in the press conference.